In conversations about this site, people often ask me the inevitable question: What is your favourite New Zealand cinema? I usually choose the Everybody's Theatre in the small South Taranaki town of Opunake. On other occasions, people report back to me about their own discovery of Everybody's, expressing their surprise at finding such a wonderful cinema in such a seemingly unlikely place.
But it has been there, in one way or another, since the 1920s. In recent years, it has had a new lease of life due to a very successful fundraising campaign, which enabled earthquake strengthening and a beautiful upgrade, together with the work of a band of dedicated local volunteers. What you will find at the Everybody's is a quite unique blend of classic cinema-going and local charm.
The next time you are through Taranaki, take the coastal route from Hawera to New Plymouth (Highway 45), stop in Opunake and discover this cinema for yourself.
A friend sent me news of the second Paekakariki Film Festival, to be held in this Kapiti seaside town from July 26 to September 13 at 5.30 Sunday nights. The venue is the local St. Peter's Hall and film programming is being steered by Andrew Armitage, formerly of Aro Video in Wellington. For more information, visit www.paekakakariki.nz/event/paekakariki-film-festival
Now that travel within New Zealand is possible, I will be heading down Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa way in the coming weeks, to update cinemas in Napier, Hastings, Masterton and so on. Time to also resurrect the Cinema of the Month feature.
With cinemas re-opening, it is time to return to the big screen. Last week, the Hamilton Film Society re-commenced its 2020 film programme with Gaylene Preston's feature MR WRONG (1985), with Gaylene in attendance. It was a great evening and there was general agreement that this ghost/thriller film still gets the laughs and screams.
With the Level 1 announcement of June 8, New Zealand cinemas have stirred back into life. I have been to three films in the past week (Master Cheng, The Trip to Greece, The Assistant) and it has taken minimal re-adjustment to return to familiar haunts such the Lido in Hamilton and Tivoli in Cambridge.
New titles are arriving on screens (more quickly than the multiplexes) and where there are insufficient films, some cinemas are drawing on the back catalogue, providing the rare experience of seeing such classics as Singing in the Rain or Funny Girl on the big screen.
Film society screenings are also starting again; on June 22 the Hamilton Film Society will screen the NZ feature Mr Wrong, with director Gaylene Preston in attendance.
It seems a long time since I last visited a New Zealand cinema but it good to see many stirring back to life. Some cinemas (such as the Academy in Auckland) were quite innovative during those long weeks when all screens were dark; offering online access to recent films.
The Doc Edge Festival 2020 has just released its programme; some 83 documentaries online over the period 12 June to 5 July. I don't really know where to begin with that, but we will give it go. This will be closely followed by the NZ International Film Festival; again online, running from 24 July to 2 August.
Both events will offer convenience and reduced costs (no more snatched meals between films) but I continue to miss the real cinema experience. I am also worried about the possible future viability olf some independent cinemas around New Zealand and I took it upon myself to send a message to Grant Robertson (Minister of Finance0, which was passed on to Stuart Nash (Minister for Small Business). His reply is as below;
Thank you for your email of 22 April 2020 to Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Hon Grant Robertson with your concerns regarding the state of independent cinemas in New Zealand as a result of COVID-19. As the matters you raised fall within my responsibilities as Minister for Small Business, I am responding to your email.
I appreciate your message of support for the Government’s direction through the current crisis. I am aware of the impacts and uncertainty that COVID-19 is bringing to many businesses at this time.
I acknowledge your concern regarding the hardships many independent cinema owners are experiencing during the COVID-19 response.
While the Government has already acted swiftly in response to the crisis, with about $20 billion in support already announced, it recognises that more is needed. Feedback and comment from both the public and the tax industry has played an important role in formulating the Government’s decisions and we continue to work with various business groups and industry leaders. From these discussions it is clear New Zealand needs to work as one to respond to these unprecedented times.
The Government has announced a suite of measures to provide relief for small and medium- sized businesses, like independent cinemas, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This included investing $25 million over the next 12 months for business consultancy support. This funding will provide tailored support services to help businesses weather the storm, at no charge to the business (up to the value of $5000). Using established services, including the Regional Business Partner Network, and the helplines run by the Employers and Manufacturers Association and Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, you can get specialist, tailored advice where it is needed, fast. This could range from human resources advice to business continuity planning to financial management. You can register at: www.regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz.
Independent cinemas are advised to contact Business Mentors New Zealand. Business Mentors New Zealand is committed to helping small business owners, emerging business entrepreneurs and social enterprise decision-makers make better business decisions. Its mentoring service introduces small business owners and social enterprise executive officers to skilled Business Mentors who will assist them in advancing their business capability, capacity and sustainability by sharing their knowledge and experience.
If independent cinema owners call the 0800 209 209 number now, they will be put through to a person who will assist them into a code to bypass payment. If they have one-off urgent enquiries, they send these to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be assisted.
In addition to the above, the Government is also introducing the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme will provide interest-free loans for a year to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 economic shock to support their immediate cashflow needs and meet fixed costs. Many businesses have had little or no revenue through Alert Level 4 and Level 3. This scheme is designed to give them access to cashflow to meet fixed costs on concessionary terms. The loans will provide assistance of up to $100,000 to firms employing 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.
The scheme will provide $10,000 to every firm and $1800 per equivalent full-time employee. Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within a year. The interest rate will be 3 per cent for a maximum term of five years. Repayments are not required for the first two years.
The eligibility criteria are the same as for the Wage Subsidy Scheme. Businesses will also have to declare that they are a viable business, they will use the money for core business operating costs and enter into a legally binding loan contract.
The scheme will be administered by Inland Revenue who will be taking applications from 12 May 2020, and pay out very shortly thereafter.
You can keep up to date with the latest information on the Government’s response initiatives at: https://covid19.govt.nz; there is also a government helpline (0800 779 997) for broader government advice.
Please be assured that we are monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 closely, and will continue to respond as the situation changes.
These are difficult times for many New Zealanders. Yet we can all contributing to eradicating this virus by following public health advice. For many of us, this is the most important thing we can do for our community during this tough period.
Thank you again for writing. Yours sincerely
Minister for Small Business
If you have not yet read it, here is a link to a very good appraisal by Business Stuff journalist Tony Wall. I put him in touch with Karen and Shane at the Tivoli in Cambridge and that was a good thing.
Obviously, there is not a lot I can be doing with this site, in these testing times. I am sure missing going to the movies but there is some consolation in what you can find online, and watch in the company of specific individuals.
Just a reminder about the Mark Cousin's Women Making Film, which begins on the Rialto Channel (Sky39) tonight (Wednesday April 1), at 8.30pm. Dan Slevin also interviewed Mark on At The Movies ( RNZ National) on the same night. . Interview available here
Here is an interesting perspective from Mark, in The Guardian from this week:
We are living through a period of great uncertainty with the COVID-19 virus disrupting all our lives. There has already been much discussion about what it might mean for cinemas and film-goers. As at Monday March 23, New Zealand cinemas remain open and I remain optimistic that we will return to some state of normality. But who knows when.
I feel a peronal loss as I will have to suspend my cinema-going until it becomes once more possible. This is after suspending,as President of the Hamilton Film Society, future weekly screenings for our members. But it does mean that I will have more time to bring this site up-to-date.
There are numerous opportunities to sustain an interest in film culture. One such great opportunity is provided by the Rialto Channel in New Zealand (Sky39), who are screening the Mark Cousin's series Women Make Film as well as Agnes on Varda through April 2020.
Links here: https://www.rialtochannel.co.nz/Reel-Women-Leading-Female-Directors Screens on Friday April 3 @ 8.30pm
First episode screens Wednesday April 1 @ 8.30pm
In early December 2019, I took a trip around the South Island to visit or re-visit cinemas, beginning in Christchurch and returning there eight days later, after visiting 28 independent cinemas (Rangiora, Kaikoura, Nelson, Westport ....). It was an intense but satisfying trip, especially where I was able to visit places where I had not been before, or where I had not been able to see cinema interiors. One such cinema was the Entertainment Centre in Roxburgh/Roxburgh Entertainment Centre.
I have added details for their listing in the Cinema Directory/Otago but also I want to make known a potentially very important aspect of the main auditorium there. The folk who run the Entertainment Centre on behalf of the community are gathering evidence and are seeking confirmation for the claim that this cinema space is the longest-continuously-running cinema space in the world, providing film since its first screening in 1897.
If their claim is successful, then will be cause for celebration and subsequent national recognition of this historical site. Watch this spot.
Geoff Lealand was an Assoc Prof in Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato from 1992 to 2017. Now retired (not a word he favours), he writes social history, maintains this site, its Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as going to the cinema at least twice weekly.